I am so happy to bring this interview to you!
My journey into fibre art began with being given a couple of balls of metallic pink yarn, a pair of 8mms, and a simple pattern for a scarf, It was rubbish. It was filled with holes and instead of being wonderful and straight, it ended up being sort of wedge shaped and very much ‘thick and thin’ in places. Yet it had still sparked something in me. I’m not sure if it was learning something new, or whether it was the feeling that I was tapping into a historical craft, I felt enlivened by it.
I knitted a few more scarves as gifts, and then discovered amigurumi, and with it – Mochimochi Land. To me it seemed to symbolise a world of creative opportunity. As a child I would even draw faces on balloons and anything else I could to create similarly chubby and characterful creatures. Here, Anna Hrechovec designed and knitted unique and fascinating little beings, ready for gifting, keeping, and cherishing.
I immediately bought her book (since then she’s written lots more) and I taught myself shaping and also the fine art of adapting patterns for double pointed needles to a pair of traditional needles (no matter how hard I try, I can never remember what to do with DPNs!) To this day I have several creatures in my living room which have been knitted from her patterns. I began with this little guy. Looking at them now, I think I’m going to need to buy a couple more!
Anyhoo, I interviewed Anna recently, and I was simply thrilled to be working with her. So here’s the interview!
Hi Anna! For readers who don’t know, what is Mochimochiland all about?
Mochimochi Land is this strange, colorful, crazy knitted world that I’ve been creating for the past 8 years or so. It started out as some knitted toys, and it’s gone on to become gallery shows and animations too. It’s an expansive project that involves all the knitters who make their own versions of my designs too, which helps keep it fresh and exciting.
What are you working on right now?
Right now I’m working on some new designs for my line of tiny kits. Exactly what they are has to be a mystery for now!
What is your favourite knitted creature you’ve ever made?
That’s pretty much impossible to answer because they’re all my favorites, really! But I was especially excited to make the giant gnomes that were in my show that just ended in Seoul. They ended up being more than three feet tall!
They’re amazing! As well as wonderful Mochimochiland, do you have any other crafty endeavours/hobbies?
I’ve been taking some hand building clay classes, but it’s mostly just playing around at this point—I haven’t started making things that I’m really excited about there yet. Otherwise, I’m really not a very crafty person, if you can believe it.
That is really hard to believe! One of the most wonderful aspects of Mochimochiland are the little animations that you make with your tiny knits! Where so you get the ideas for these?
Thank you! Coming up with the ideas for the animations
is really the hardest part of the process. Sometimes I have to brainstorm for months! But it’s helpful to have the knitted mochis in my hands, and let their bodies show me what they want to do. Because they’re so small, they’re really limited in the actions that they can make, so the planning of an animation is restricted to big movements, things that can come across really obviously with the small creatures. So that’s why I think about very physical, cartoonish stories.
Do you come from a crafty family?
I wouldn’t really say crafty, but I come from a creative family. My mom taught nursing, but in her spare time she would often (and still does) write plays and funny songs. My dad was a mechanic, and now that he’s retired he spends most of his time fixing clocks. He also writes poetry, which I think is awesome.
Do you see yourself as encouraging others to get ‘making’, as well as appreciating your art?
I definitely like to encourage people to make things! It’s a good break from our digital lives, and so good for your brain to try something new with your hands and see physical results. Knitting is a great pastime, but I get inspired by seeing people make things in all sorts of ways, especially when it’s something I’ve never thought of before.
What is your creative process for designing a new knitted being?
I start with sketching, which I’m not particularly good at, but it’s necessary for me to visualize a character. Usually I’ll sketch something over and over again with small variations until it takes a form that I get excited about. Then unless it’s something particularly large, I usually just get started knitting. I use so many of the same simple shapes in my designs, that I generally have an idea of how I can make it happen with my needles and yarn. I take notes as I go, and sometimes rip things out to go back a few rows, or sometimes I make multiple versions of the same toy to get to the design that I like best. The process of knitting and designing can take anywhere from a few hours to a couple of weeks, but like with animations, it’s the idea that is the hardest part and usually takes the longest to develop.
Image from Anna’s new book, ‘Adventures in Mochimochi Land’, (Photo Credit: Brandi Simons)
I’m currently working on a Knittynudo book on fibre art and storytelling, what advice would you give to a fledgling crafty-book writer?
That’s awesome! Whether you’re writing it independently or with a publisher, a good editor is really important, someone whose opinion you trust on style and also technical stuff. (Ideally you would have two editors to focus on each of those things.) I think it’s also helpful just to go look at some crafty books that you admire, and think about how they’re put together—writing a book is so different from writing blog posts or just writing patterns, so taking a close look at what makes a good book is really helpful. Good luck!
Thank you! And finally, what is your ultimate mochi-ambition for the future?
This is another question that’s hard to answer, since I have quite a few ideas. I’d love to do some larger-scale installations that have a bit of an interactive quality to them. And very big picture, I also love the idea of developing a TV show or movie based on my world someday.
And what a lovely world that would be! Thank you so much Anna, it’s been wonderful!
I’m going to bring you a few more interviews in the next month or so – it’s so lovely to talk to such talented people!